Eight Models Share their Experiences During COVID-19

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Working as a fashion model helped me pay my way through school. Instead of working as a waitress, I was walking in runway shows across the state, wearing beautiful designer gowns, stunning swimsuits and meeting wonderful people; both models and designers. But all that changed over the past few months. I remember getting an email from my modeling agent informing me about Miami Fashion Week’s casting postponement. In my head, it made sense. The event, which typically features designers worldwide takes place in late May and early June could not possibly occur safely with the continuous rise of coronavirus cases across the world.

Although heartbroken, I understood the reasoning behind the decision to postpone Miami Fashion Week  and then to create smaller presentations and digital shows for Miami Swim Week. However, these shows are some of the biggest financial opportunities for up and coming modeling within the Miami area. With New York Fashion Week being a virtual event, many models couldn’t even fly back to cast for it. Bigger name models are fine because they don’t have to worry about one missed season, but what about the models who depend on these jobs to make ends meet? I spoke to eight up and coming models about what it is like to work (or not work) during the pandemic.

Alexis

Agencies: Alexa Models, Fenton Models, The Walk Collective, Clique Mexico

“Modeling during COVID has been really slow for me. I was in Mexico City for work right when they were talking about closing the borders in March! I had to fly to Florida, and I haven’t been back to NYC since, which is where I was living full-time. I will go back to the city full time in January 2021! But I’m not in NYC and I’m still paying for my apartment up there. It’s been rough for sure! I had to take my old job back as a lifeguard in my hometown.”

Mason

Agencies: Front Management, Major, Two

“I was supposed to go out to LA to test the market from April-June with Two Management.  Unfortunately, I received an email saying that no one was being submitted for jobs and that the agency was closing for the COVID pandemic. Since then, I have had to branch out and find new sources of income. Thankfully the industry is starting to ramp up here, with my mother agency, Front Management.”

Aerin

Agencies: Major Models Miami and New York, The Walk Collective

“I miss traveling to new places and being able to experience something new with each job. I miss meeting new people who are from around the world and having amazing teams to work with. I just signed with Major Models in New York this year, so hopefully things pick up and I could pursue my modeling career full throttle!”

Maya

Agencies: Select Miami and Milan, Marilyn New Work

“COVID shifted the modeling industry tremendously at large. Gatherings were no longer safe. Having my grandparents near me meant not being able to work. It meant staying home to protect them.”

Makaila

Agencies: True NYC, Front Miami, Role Model Management LA

“During the pandemic, my agency asked a couple of their girls to do a FaceTime photoshoot so they’d have new content to share. Man, was it weird! Thank god the photographer talked to me the entire time because I felt like I was posing for my phone. At least the pictures turned out pretty cool, considering I was in my parents’ home.”

Hannah

Agencies: The Walk Collective Miami

“I haven’t had a single job since COVID. My last job was a runway show for the Armani house opening in March. It’s like everything stopped. I miss seeing my friends so much. I dream about you girls all the time. I miss catching up while we get to dress up and put on a show. I miss meeting designers and seeing new fashion trends and ideas.”

Emma

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Agency: Front Miami

“Pre-COVID, modeling was just a part-time job until I finished High School. I was hoping to pursue it once I graduated. Things have slowed down so much that I have only had one test shoot. Prior to COVID, I would have at least one casting per week.”

Lou

Agency: Wilhelmina

“As a first-time model at Miami Swim Week, I had no previous comparison, but based on the surrounding comments I knew this swim season was different. With only the best production team/ casting director, you could be booked for multiple shows or none at all. It was a cutthroat year to be amongst the local talent for castings and some of the biggest swim brands in the world. It was an amazing experience surrounded by passionate people and couture swimwear. What more could a girl want?”

While “top models” are enjoying the little break, working models struggle to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many returned to other jobs for sources of income. These models who worked hard to find an agency and book jobs are seeing these opportunities taken away. It makes us realize never to take anything for granted. Everyone is trying to make the best during this new normal. Production teams are adapting to changes in this virtual world, castings are held through zoom, makeup and hair teams wear more PPE than health practitioners and photographers and models are using their phone to create new content.

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Eight Models Share their Experiences During COVID-19